Puzzled

puzzle1I love jigsaw puzzles and have since I was a small child. My great-grandmother started it with a 500-piece beauty. I got so good at them, that I figured out she had three all from the same jig. I put them together one on top of the other, matching the pieces. These days I can do a 300 piece in an hour. Not bragging, just my enjoyment of the challenge.

Puzzles are a great brain stimulator. They are also good for relaxation and to help you focus. I use them as therapy when I’m stressed.

puzzle2Jigsaw puzzles and their cousins, crossword and sudoku are great tools for stress or boredom. I think boredom is just stress turned outward. Both involve some mental obsession with an overlay of rapidly random thoughts. Your mind keeps churning over and over, but you can’t find a solution. A puzzle of some sort helps you to focus your thoughts on each individual item. You are searching for a particular piece, be it shape or color, and your mind begins to zero in on that which you seek. If you allow those random stressful or bored thoughts to just whirl around in your head, they will begin to form shapes not unlike the puzzle pieces. Soon they will formulate into clues to your issue.

By giving your monkey brain something to do, you turn your subconscious or Higher Self over to the Universe to receive solutions. Not to mention, how quickly you can put that puzzle together.

Your Green Is Showing

st-patricks-day-1255621_1920Happy St Patrick’s Day to all Irish folk and those who want to be. Today is the day when everyone dons their best green glitter, beads, headgear and alcohol-themed items and makes a parade of the day. Sort of like Halloween, but all in green. What’s not to love about a happy-looking shamrock, or leprechaun waving about? Especially with a live band playing a dance-inducing jig. Nothing like a little celebration for getting us out of the winter doldrums.

I’ve often wondered why people go a little nutty on this day. I think it goes much beyond just the celebration of St Paddy. I think it is the unleashing of Spring. Three days from now is the Spring Equinox, the balance of day and night. Spring flowers are pushing their tiny noses up through the melting snow. Birds are chirping and starting their mating dance. The sun is higher in the sky and much brighter than its winter tone. Lakes and ponds are slowly losing their glaze of ice.

And humans are unleashing their cabin fever in a crazed dance of Celtic partying.

It’s mid-March and volatile weather still lurks. Hail storms and tornados threaten to wreak havoc on our property. All the while, a riot of color begins to explode from the earth into perfect petals.

Many of us, me included, look longingly at our tarp-covered patio furniture and wonder how soon we can toss those covers aside. We stand at patio doors and windows, sipping our green beer, and wait for the shamrocks to grown in the lawn. Soon, the warmer air promises. Soon, you can come out and play. Soon, but not soon enough.

Do I have Spring Fever? So much so, that my toenails are green.

Storm-ward Bound

snow, bomb cyclone,
DENVER, CO – MARCH 13: 16th Street Mall of Denver is covered by snow on Wednesday. March 13, 2019. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Yesterday, March 13th, Colorado experienced a “bomb cyclone”. WTF?! A meteorological term for a drop in barometric pressure that exceeds 24 millibars in 24 hours. Another WTF. The radar picture does look like a cyclone. All I know is that it was an awful blizzard to drive in. Never mind that major highways were closed. Never mind that stoplights were covered in snow or not working. Never mind that the Governor called out the National Guard to get stranded motorists.

What was I doing on the road in a blizzard?

Because my workplace decreed that we all needed to show up for 3 hours of work. And then get sent home in the midst of the blowing snow. WTF.

Unless you are having a heart attack and need to get to the hospital, there is likely nothing you need to go out in a blizzard for. If you need to get home from someplace, then you probably shouldn’t have been there to begin with. Starbucks and most liquor stores were probably closed. You probably don’t need them either.

What is it that compels people to hop in their cars in the midst of wildly blowing snow? Last week, the news stated “the mountains are CLOSED”. That means don’t go there or you can’t go there. An avalanche took out I-70, the interstate highway that goes over the mountains. People were caught in that. People ski in that. With an avalanche pack that becomes a balloon. Might I say once again, What. The. F*ck.

When there is a blizzard or any other serious weather disaster, employers please tell your people to stay home unless you are in the business of saving lives. You just make it difficult for those who do to get to those people. If you are an adrenaline junkie, stay home and surf Facebook. There is plenty enough adrenaline-boosting juice obtained from reading troll comments.

Stay home, it is not worth endangering your life for either a momentary thrill or to read a bunch of time-wasting emails.

Leat-Her Wear it

I’m not a big fan of leather coats. They tend to be too bulky and too stiff. Even my fave – the biker jacket. But when I saw this coat in the Sundance catalog (Robert Redford’s company), I decided that I seriously needed it. So I searched up a coupon and then pressed the Order button.

I’m glad I pressed Send. This coat is like butter and it has enormous style, almost military/calvary in its cut. The buttons come to a V at the waist and then the remainder are hidden. Those couple are a little hard to button from the inside, but oh-so-cool. It’s great for a slightly warmer winter day in Denver.

I know that from a social viewpoint, leather and its sister, fur, get a bad rap. Along with eating their contents. I have no “beef” [pun intended] with anyone’s choice; it is all in how you grew up. I grew up on a self-sustaining farm in Iowa. We raised milk cows (my favorite, as previously written), stock cows, pigs and chickens. We grew corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. We planted a huge amount of potatoes and an average-sized garden. We ate what we grew and sold some for profit. That is what farming is all about. In the middle of an Iowa winter, having a freezer full of meat is a necessity. We had canned vegetables and potatoes in cold storage, but it is not enough to feed a family through those long cold months.

Pigs and cows were sold at the stockyards, which gave us money to live on. They, of course, generated meat, but the hides had to go somewhere. So, they became coats, shoes, belts, handbags and so on. A very practical use of all the parts. I abhor cruelty in any form, but it normally doesn’t exist in a family farm situation. All our animals, right down to the adorable baby ducks were well cared for.

So if you see someone walking down the street wearing something you don’t agree with, allow them their choice. They might be farm-raised like me. I’m sure no one will berate you for wearing broccoli on your pants.

So let her wear it.

A-Dior-able

images[5]On February 12, 1947, Christian Dior launched the “New Look” collection from his Paris couture house. The world was recovering from World War II, and its austere, masculine clothing. The New Look returned the feminine silhouette with a full bustline, tiny waist and curvy hips. I believe that it reminded the world that the feminine, nurturing energy was returning. It was criticized as being a wasteful luxury when times were still lean. Thus is the power of the feminine energy, to create, to nurture, to honor the need to pamper our souls.

Today, my Sweetie and I attended the Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. The show is in its final tour, ending on March 17th. The exhibit included dozens of beautiful gowns and suits, beginning with the classic “Bar Suit” categorized by a creamy fitted jacket and a black, calf-length full skirt. Think Lucille Ball in her heyday. From the simple suit to fabulous gowns of detailed embroidery and gems, lean silhouettes to curvaceous sweeps, all stunning in this gorgeous collection.

 

I, myself, enjoyed the blatant outrageousness of John Galliano. Highly satirical, if you studied the garments closely. One fabulous gown, that I failed to take of photo of, (God knows why not), which I dubbed “Queen in Bondage”. Bejeweled red satin, the bodice was a tightly fitted corset style with the seeming intent to expose the breasts, although there was a bit a fabric tucked in to keep it decent. Or so I assume. The skirt flared out from the knees, mermaid style, looking almost impossible to move in. The entire garment was capped by an innocuous-appearing crown. Luxurious, over-the-top, this gown defined Galliano’s evil genius. Too bad he couldn’t limit his antics to design instead of running off at the mouth.

IMG_20190303_115107239 (1)Like all art, fashion is beauty in the eyes of the beholder. For women in general, it is the living expression of our soul. You can wake up in the morning ready to deal with what is likely going to be a sh*tty day, and instead, choose to arm yourself with a great outfit. Fake it ‘til you make it, or so they say. Dressing in your favorite outfit, because you know you look fabulous in it, will change the day into something great. And I hate to disappoint you guys, but women don’t usually dress for men unless they are hunting for a husband or boyfriend. As designer Betsey Johnson said “if girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times”. Just notice when you are in a public place, most of the women are looking at each other and often commenting about shoes and handbags.

Why? Because we are just f-ing adorable.

Cows Don’t Wait

cow-2896329_1920I like cows, especially the milk-producers. I like their big, clunky bodies. I like their ability to go from complete Zen peacefulness to the occasional tail-flying romp. I like the interesting patterns and colors of their hide.

On the family farm, we had big, black and white Holsteins that produced enormous quantities of milk. A few of the more docile, brown and white spotted Guernseys. And one precious sweet-faced Jersey, whose milk was pure cream. Small, golden brown with delicate faces, the cow-version of the Arabian horse, the Jersey was my favorite.

cow-961790_1920There is much to bovine wisdom if you pay attention. First and foremost, they teach us a lesson in work ethics. Cows must be milked every single day or they suffer. They will bellow louder than your alarm clock if you don’t tend to them. No lying in bed, no calling in sick, no swiping your cell phone.

 

They teach you how to treat them. I was never allowed to help with the milking, because I was too little. Yet I hung around in the barn during milking time. It was all hands-on; we didn’t have enough cows to require milking machines. It took a certain amount of finesse to milk a cow. A heavy hand got you a tail swipe in the face. Too heavy of a hand got a hoof poked at you; most of the time only resulting in a tipped over bucket. It was important to learn a rhythmic, soothing squeeze, not unlike our trips to a massage therapist. For the big, full-bagged Holstein, milking kept them calm and happy.

holstein-cattle-2318436_1920For humans and animals alike, feeding time is a ritual. Like clockwork, cows lumber along single file from the outer reaches of the pasture to gather in the feeding area by the barn. Buckets of grain, fresh hay and a lick from a salt block created contentment and satiety.

cow-2945515_1920Simply sitting and observing cows is a peaceful time for humans. They contentedly graze, mull over their cud, with the occasional flick of a long tail if a fly ventures too near. A twitch of their soft, velvety ears. They occasional lulling moo, especially if there are suckling calves nearby. Just small, simple message to remind us to take our responsibilities seriously, but move through our day with ease and slow, sure steps.

Cows don’t wait for our procrastination. Cows don’t wait while we rush around filling our day with meaningless activities. Cows don’t wait for us to get the need for rest and relaxation. They just do.

Or is it moo.

Chewing My Cud

cow-44702_1280Last week, my workweek was a little rough.  Too many meetings, which I hate anyway, and one that included a person that seems hell-bent-for-leather on demeaning my work and reputation.  I think she is carrying a grudge because I made a prudent business decision without getting her permission, of which she really has no authority over, but it pissed her off.  My manager and director were on board with the decision, so it wasn’t as though I ran wild on my own.  Needless to say, she was once again a nasty b*itch in last week’s meeting.  It is getting OLD.

Today is President’s Day and a work holiday.  I decided to use the day to ruminate and try to come up with some ideas on how to deal with the situation.  Being around this person is extremely toxic and I am not the only one that feels this way.  Because I am very empathic, her nastiness coats me like tar and it takes awhile to recover.  I am left feeling worthless and depressed.

This morning I told my Sweetie that I was going to ruminate today and he said “oh, like a cow regurgitating and chewing their cud”.  I laughed and looked up “ruminate” and one of the definitions was “chewing your cud”.  The funnier part to this was the further comment of “cows release more methane while ruminating”.  I guess it seems apropos that I named this blog “Loving Your Sh*t”.

apartment-3677491_1920As I ruminate on the situation, a recurring theme comes up with worthiness and responsibility.  I often feel as though I continually need to prove my worth, which causes me to take on too much responsibility and them I am tired and resentful of those around me.  Being an empath causes me to feel chaotic energy, which results in a deep need to have an organized, near-perfect environment.  To get that, the need to control takes over and then I must do it myself to meet my standards.

cow-1983720_1280I’ve done enough study and research to know that I am not alone in these feelings.  Many people, especially women, are caught in this recycling trap.  Chewing our cud, so to speak.  This emotional bind is very often caused by emotionally unavailable parents.  For women, it is primarily the mother and causes a deep loss of self.  There are typically two types of coping mechanisms that result: Mary Marvelous and Sally Screw-Up.  Both play out the core wound of Not Good Enough and the efforts to portray this result.  I happen to be a Mary Marvelous and overdo everything I tackle in order to be recognized and valued by someone.  It is a pattern that is extremely difficult to break, although I have progressed greatly within the last decade.  I may never be able to completely break the pattern, but I’m damned sure going to try.


Much of what happened last week centers around our budgeting process.  It is something I have prepared since I first started working there, and I took responsibility for it all.  To the point that I only had the managers add the discretionary spending.  They didn’t even have to be part of the justification process, which is endless questioning about why we need to spend money for something.  Our department’s budget has many complicated funding sources and programs, so there is a lot to the process.  These complications don’t fit in with the basic process as dictated by this woman, and she is making this year’s process difficult.  She wants it her way.  It hit me that why should I continue to take the brow-beating and not let the managers be responsible?  I will be gone before next year’s budget so I think it is time that they learn how to do this. 

cow-2896329_1920I realize that I created this whole deal with my un-ending need to prove myself.  Well, I’ve done that and now all my effort is being stripped away by this person.  I must step back and begin to withdraw from so much responsibility.  I must teach them how to do the work and provide the justification.  They need to meet with the person and deal with her dictates.  I know all of this, yet it is difficult.  My core wound doesn’t want to disappoint nor deal with the b*itching that is sure to come.  My core wound says you aren’t good enough to ask others to do the job they should be doing.  If I don’t, the cost is my well-being and possibly health.


So I’ve been praying to the Universe for help.  I’m asking for courage, for strength, and for the words to ask for these changes.  This truly is about “Loving Your Sh*t” and I must walk my talk.  Or else I end up face first in a cow pie and I’ve stepped in enough real ones to know.

Love Is All Around Us

hug-2702900_1280Tomorrow, February 14th, is Valentine’s Day, another retail gold mine involving chocolates, roses, teddy bears, more chocolate and occasionally something sparkly.  A time when we declare our love for someone through gifting.  Nothing wrong with that, gifting is always about expressing our love and appreciation with material items.  A gift, like our love, is with the intent of lasting value.

But for many people, tomorrow is Thursday, just another Thursday in a long list of Thursdays.  That is not meant to be sad, either, some people just don’t care about V-Day.  Some people don’t have a romantic partner and don’t care about that either.  But for those that don’t have one and do care, tomorrow can be a difficult reminder of the single state.  It is during those times, that one must remember that love can come in many forms and from many places.

We were created out of love and joy, not just from our birth parents, but from the Creator.  No matter your upbringing, environment, personal characteristics or anything about you, you are loved and you are lovable.

Have you ever reached down to pet a puppy?  Unconditional love and joy bounces up and licks your fingers.  Or waved at a baby in a stroller in the grocery store.  Their little eyes focus on you, sparkling a little as the hint of a grin curves their lips.  A hug from a friend you haven’t seen in a long while.  I could keep going with a list of every molecule of love that surrounds you, but I don’t have that much time to write and the file would be too big to upload.  That’s a lot of LOVE!

But the biggest love of all, is the love you feel for yourself.  When you love yourself, accepting all your warts and faults and farts, you will never do without love in your life.  You are lovable so there is no way you can’t not love yourself.  Got that?

Love is not just all around you, it is eternally within you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thar She Blows!

mount-st-helens-164848_1920Many of us have been taught that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  At the same time, spewing nasty, foul, never-to-be-taken-back, words of hate is not the way to go either.  But like the pressure relief valve on a water heater, you have to let out some of the heat or you will blow up.  And like the water heater, you don’t want to become a missile and go through your roof, or at worst someone’s head.

If someone offends you or steps on your toes, holding back your comments does neither of you any good.  First, you just taught them that it is okay to be unkind to you.  Second, you just deposit resentment energy in your body.  And we all know what that does.  (Create dis-ease, if you didn’t know.)  You need to respond immediately and tell the person that you didn’t like what they said or did.  Screaming at the top of your lungs is not necessary, unless they physically hurt you, and then maybe you need to deck them in return.  Just kidding.  An eye for eye isn’t always the best strategy either.  Sometimes that gets you a free ticket to jail.  A very simple “please do not talk to me like that”, is often all that needs to be said.

It’s not always easy to respond quickly.  Sometimes we are caught off guard, with the “I can’t believe what I just heard” thought delay.  And then it seems like the moment is lost.  Sometimes a lifetime of being treated as though you don’t matter keeps your voice silent.  Resentment begins to build in your body like a water heater on full throttle.  It is times like that when you need to find a safe zone to let off some steam.  Some people do well with releasing anger through physical exercise.  Others need to vent to a friend.  Whatever is your preferred method, use it. 

When you release your anger, it subsides and you are able to look at the situation more clearly.  You will give yourself the opportunity to replay it in your mind and develop a new response to future situations.  Practice what you would say if it happens again.  If it is a situation or a person that can never be resolved, share your feelings with a trusted friend.  Venting is healthy.  Wallowing in it is not, because that is with the intention that you don’t want to resolve it in any way.  Venting releases the toxic anger that could cause you illness or erupt in harm to something or someone.

Heat-seeking missiles cause destruction and you don’t forever want to be known as a nuke.

Oink

pig-3914574_1280Pigs make oinking noises, along with squeaks and grunts as their form of communication.  Pigs are social creatures, intelligent and contrary to popular belief, like to be clean.  Apparently, all that lolling in the mud is a way to keep cool.

In the Chinese zodiac, the pig is a sign of wealth.  We have just entered into the year of the Earth Pig, leaving behind those yapping, territorial Dogs.  It is time to lick our wounds and snuggle up to the oh-so-social Pig.  And it’s no wonder we started the year with a clean-it-up frenzy, Piggies like clean spaces, which makes inviting their friends over a true joy.  Party carefully with the playful Pig, they are known to overindulge.

Work hard, play hard motivates the Pig, but they often have trouble setting clear goals.  You will want the Pig on your team, because their bright spirit enthuses those around them.  Help your Pig friend or partner to make a good financial plan lest they spend all their hard-earned cash.

The Year of the Earth Pig promises to be pleasant and congenial, and oh boy, we could sure use some “friending” after being nipped on our butts by the Dogs.  Take some time to rest and reconnect with your besties, and not just electronically.  This Pig likes to touch.